So much of fat loss is mental. Sure, eating right and moving more definitely play important roles, but if you’re not winning the mental game, body goals can be hard to achieve.
That’s because the first step to making changes on the outside often starts on the inside. It’s why things like motivational memes and quotes are so popular and widely shared online–they can empower the mind to improve the body. Still, getting your mind right–the same mind that might body shame you, doesn’t always think you’re good enough, and constantly tests your willpower–can seem like a lot of work.
But guess what? It doesn’t have to be! In fact, a Harvard University study found that a group of women working in the hospitality industry showed a decrease in weight, blood pressure, body fat, waist-to-hip ratio, and body mass index when they were simply told “the work they do (cleaning hotel rooms) is good exercise and satisfies the Surgeon General’s recommendations for an active lifestyle.” Nothing about their lifestyle or activities levels changed during the four weeks tested, yet the placebo effect–the beneficial effect generated solely by one’s mental belief instead of by a drug or medical treatment–made a positive difference on their health.
10 Tips to Change Your Mind
That doesn’t mean you just stop exercising and eating right, but if you can get your brain on board that the steps you’re taking are a path toward progress, you could be in for more powerful results. If you’ve been struggling with shedding unwanted fat or with achieving the “new you,” try these mental rules to lose by:
- Build a support system: A close circle of friends and family can really make all the difference. Find others who will support (not sabotage!) you along your healthy journey, keeping closest to you those who cheer you on, celebrate your wins, prop you up after losses, and challenge you to keep moving ahead.
- Become your biggest fan: Maybe the most important person in your support system is you. It’s great to turn to others, but learning to praise your own performance and not let negative talk set you back will ultimately make a bigger difference than anything anyone else can say.
- Stick to motivation: If your mind isn’t always great about encouraging you each day, post notes with positive affirmations and quotes in places you’ll see daily. Short lines to read when looking in the bathroom mirror, while brewing a cup of joe, or when typing away at your computer can be just the motivating reminders you need.
- Prepare for challenges: Negative talk may stem from fear of the unknown. Instead of worrying over everything that may go wrong, make a plan that would allow you to overcome any challenge that actually pops up.
- Move at your pace: There is always going to be someone who is faster, smarter, or better at things than you are (and guess what? You are already faster, smarter, or better than someone else in this world). It’s not a competition; it’s a journey–your journey! You don’t have to speed through it at the pace of others on their journeys.
- Track progress and keep it close: Looking in the mirror each day can make it difficult to see how far you’ve come. Since progress has a positive impact on mental well-being, take photos, keep journals, and try on old clothing as healthy reminders of results thus far–and that you have what it takes to take the path even farther.
- Accept your issues: Baggage isn’t just a useful travel accessory; it’s also thought of as issues that tend to be more pessimistic by nature. Everyone has baggage, even if it looks different in one way or another. The good news is that baggage doesn’t have to be so gloomy. If you think about it as personal experiences that have helped to shape the person you are, you can turn those issues into strengths instead of weaknesses. When repeat negative thoughts loom, think about what you can learn and use from them to move forward rather than dwelling on the past. Change your perspective to see how these learning moments can propel you ahead.
- Find purpose: Instead of a goal to reach X fat loss percentage or wear X dress size, make your achievements more purposeful. For example, dial in your mind on living longer to see your grandchildren graduate from college or having the stamina to tackle a bucket list style task or adventure.
- Get therapy: No, not the doctor’s couch (unless that’s what you need, of course), but instead a therapeutic hobby that calms you, proves how good at something you are, and keeps you challenged. Whether it’s a sport, artistic craft, culinary interest, or something else, take up something new or improve a skill you already have to mentally empower yourself.
- Take a break: Nowadays people never stop. Social media seems to spur FOMO (the fear of missing out) as well as glorify the busy life. But in order to feed your mind the good stuff, it needs moments of solace the same way muscles need rest to recover following an intense sweat session. Remember to take a break when you need it and listen to your body. It will throw out plenty of signs when you’re taking on more than you can handle.